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Captain Jack Sparrow trades piracy for pruning, St.-Emilion takes the 'class' out of classification, a new wine in a tube, grapes for fuel and a perfume inspired by Cognac

Posted: November 28, 2007

• Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of wine! Actor Johnny Depp, the 44-year-old Pirates of the Caribbean star, may have come up with a way to ensure he never has to utter the question, "But why is the wine gone?" According to several celebrity-gossip websites, Depp recently purchased a vineyard in Plan de la Tour, France, near the villa he shares with longtime girlfriend and singer Vanessa Paradis and their two children. Although Depp's publicist wouldn't confirm the purchase to Unfiltered, the story's gotten more ink than the tattoo on Depp's arm that reads "Wino forever" (a relic from a broken engagement to actress Winona Ryder). As the rumor goes, Depp purchased the vineyard to celebrate the release of Paradis' new album Divinidylle. A generous gift, certainly, but let's hope Paradis doesn't take it the wrong way: that she should be working in the vineyard instead of singing. We're sure that's not the case, but we can only wonder why someone didn't think of that for Britney Spears a long time ago.

• It was back to square one, well, practically, in St.-Emilion a couple weeks ago. In case you haven't been following the local wine politics, the latest Grand Cru classification of the region's wineries, which is reviewed and updated every 10 years, was suspended last March. But now, the suspension has been suspended, putting things back the way they were—which is what got people so unhappy in the first place. The Council of State in Paris ruled in mid-November that the new list of châteaus didn't deserve to be punished by all the legal wrangling caused by the handful of demoted properties unwilling to accept their fate. The saga began when four estates—Châteaus Guadet-Saint-Julien, Cadet Bon, Lamarzelle, La Tour du Pin Figeac—delisted in last year's revamping decided to complain about the objectivity of the judging panel. Jacques Gautier, the director of the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine (INAO), who helped pick the jury and participated in the tastings, is ecstatic about the latest episode since it confirms his organization's original results. Emmanuelle Ponsan-Dantin, spokesperson for the St-Emilion wine union, said the only new development could be that the demoted châteaus may be reinstated by the courts early next year—essentially reversing the reversal. Funny thing is, the classification is supposed to make things easier for the consumer. But instead it's just sounding like sour grapes.

Better than the silver bullet...we hope.

• Insert "thinking outside the box" joke here. New wine producer Revelry Vintners, based in Issaquah, Wash., has decided to keep the wine in the box, but change the box's shape. Jared Burns, winemaker and founder of Revelry, has started packaging wine in a cylindrical container that's similar in shape and dimension to a 750mL bottle, but holds 1.5 liters of wine—kind of like the Dtour wine introduced by Daniel Boulud and Daniel Johnnes a couple years ago. The design uses laminated barrier films to create a bladder, which keeps the wine fresh and the oxygen out, purportedly allowing for safe, fresh keeping up to 30 days after opening the container. Revelry currently offers three wines from the Columbia Valley appellation: a Merlot, a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon. Burns said he hopes that the cylindrical design of the container will appeal to the more jaded wine drinkers who'd normally dismiss a box wine, but Unfiltered's heard this line before. Many times. So yet again, we'll say that it's not the packaging, it's what's on the inside. We haven't tried this particular wine, but if it tastes good, it doesn't matter what the container looks like. That said, we hope someone, someday, puts great wine in a container that's disguised as an Xbox 360 so some of us can put an end to the complaints we hear from our wives or girlfriends about how much we're spending on wine.

• Grapes + yeast = wine. Clean and simple, right? Except winemaking tends to leave a giant mound of skins, stems, seeds and pulp after the wine is pressed off. A few wineries use this pomace for fertilizer; others for brandy or grappa. But Canadian winery Inniskillin has decided to use their pomace to fuel Ontario homes. Located on the Niagara Peninsula and best known for its ice wine, Inniskilin plans to send 1,000 to 2,000 tons of pomace—which used to go into a landfill—to StormFisher Biogas, an Ontario alternative energy company. As the pomace decomposes, helped along by added microorganisms, it releases methane gas, which StormFisher will use for power. Such biogas is becoming an increasingly popular use for organic waste—firms are processing everything from used cooking oil to cow manure. No word yet on whether used ice wine or botrytis-infected grapes give off particularly sweet-smelling methane. But it'd be nice.

Looks like David Bowie's makeup kit from the Ziggy Stardust days.

• People often like a sip of Cognac around the holidays, but apparently some people are just inspired by Cognac in strange ways. French designer Thierry Mugler is rolling out La Part des Anges ("the Angels' share"), a new version of his famous perfume Angel, to celebrate the brand's 15th birthday. Inspired by the care that goes into creating spirits, Mugler decided that it would be interesting to macerate the new fragrance in a cherry wood cask. After an aging period of 23 weeks, the original perfume is transformed into a concentrated extract along the lines of the Liqueurs des Anges—better known as Cognac. The limited-edition collector's bottle is made by glass company Brosse, which makes bottles for several other high-end fragrances. The fragrance, described by Mugler's press people as "a blend of mouth-watering accents of sugar-glazed fruits with sumptuous amber and delicious honey," comes across as something you could pretty much pair with foie gras. Only 1,000 bottles are available in the United States, retailing for $220, which sounds a bit pricey, we think, when you could just dab a little Cognac behind your ear—and maybe a little foie gras behind the other, if you're into pairings.

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